Smiles abound as toddlers play in Malawi. 

We often ask children what makes them happy. One of the most common responses is simply, “playing.” 

They may go by different names, or have slightly different rules, but the games they play are easily recognizable. 

You can spot children twisting their fingers into knots with a cat’s cradle, running gleefully around the field in a game of tag, or standing in pairs beating out ever-more complicated rhythms in a myriad of pat-a-cake style clapping games. 

And on the pitch, football and netball often reign supreme.

What might be harder to recognize is what they are playing with. 

Without the means to buy toys, children are masters of innovation. A plastic bag can be cut into strips and plaited into a skipping rope or knotted into a tight clump to form a small ball. Cat’s cradles can be made by simply knotting two pieces of string or laces together. And a slightly deflated football or netball is no reason to call an end to the match.  

We love these photos from a nursery school in Malawi, demonstrating just how much you can learn through play! And with Mary’s Meals, children can concentrate in class and have plenty of energy for fun and games!